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Observed Kinematic and Thermodynamic Structure in the Hurricane Boundary Layer during Intensity Change

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  • 1 Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
  • | 2 Center for Ocean–Atmospheric Prediction Studies, Tallahassee, Florida
  • | 3 Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
  • | 4 NOAA/AOML/Hurricane Research Division, and Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, University of Miami, Miami, Florida
  • | 5 NOAA/AOML/Hurricane Research Division, Miami, Florida
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Abstract

The axisymmetric structure of the inner-core hurricane boundary layer (BL) during intensification [IN; intensity tendency ≥20 kt (24 h)−1, where 1 kt ≈ 0.5144 m s−1], weakening [WE; intensity tendency <−10 kt (24 h)−1], and steady-state [SS; the remainder] periods are analyzed using composites of GPS dropwindsondes from reconnaissance missions between 1998 and 2015. A total of 3091 dropsondes were composited for analysis below 2.5-km elevation—1086 during IN, 1042 during WE, and 963 during SS. In nonintensifying hurricanes, the low-level tangential wind is greater outside the radius of maximum wind (RMW) than for intensifying hurricanes, implying higher inertial stability (I2) at those radii for nonintensifying hurricanes. Differences in tangential wind structure (and I2) between the groups also imply differences in secondary circulation. The IN radial inflow layer is of nearly equal or greater thickness than nonintensifying groups, and all groups show an inflow maximum just outside the RMW. Nonintensifying hurricanes have stronger inflow outside the eyewall region, likely associated with frictionally forced ascent out of the BL and enhanced subsidence into the BL at radii outside the RMW. Equivalent potential temperatures (θe) and conditional stability are highest inside the RMW of nonintensifying storms, which is potentially related to TC intensity. At greater radii, inflow layer θe is lowest in WE hurricanes, suggesting greater subsidence or more convective downdrafts at those radii compared to IN and SS hurricanes. Comparisons of prior observational and theoretical studies are highlighted, especially those relating BL structure to large-scale vortex structure, convection, and intensity.

© 2019 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Kyle Ahern, kka09@my.fsu.edu

Abstract

The axisymmetric structure of the inner-core hurricane boundary layer (BL) during intensification [IN; intensity tendency ≥20 kt (24 h)−1, where 1 kt ≈ 0.5144 m s−1], weakening [WE; intensity tendency <−10 kt (24 h)−1], and steady-state [SS; the remainder] periods are analyzed using composites of GPS dropwindsondes from reconnaissance missions between 1998 and 2015. A total of 3091 dropsondes were composited for analysis below 2.5-km elevation—1086 during IN, 1042 during WE, and 963 during SS. In nonintensifying hurricanes, the low-level tangential wind is greater outside the radius of maximum wind (RMW) than for intensifying hurricanes, implying higher inertial stability (I2) at those radii for nonintensifying hurricanes. Differences in tangential wind structure (and I2) between the groups also imply differences in secondary circulation. The IN radial inflow layer is of nearly equal or greater thickness than nonintensifying groups, and all groups show an inflow maximum just outside the RMW. Nonintensifying hurricanes have stronger inflow outside the eyewall region, likely associated with frictionally forced ascent out of the BL and enhanced subsidence into the BL at radii outside the RMW. Equivalent potential temperatures (θe) and conditional stability are highest inside the RMW of nonintensifying storms, which is potentially related to TC intensity. At greater radii, inflow layer θe is lowest in WE hurricanes, suggesting greater subsidence or more convective downdrafts at those radii compared to IN and SS hurricanes. Comparisons of prior observational and theoretical studies are highlighted, especially those relating BL structure to large-scale vortex structure, convection, and intensity.

© 2019 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Kyle Ahern, kka09@my.fsu.edu
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